The objective of this series is twofold: 1) To assess what our children believe about the gospel, and, 2) To see if they can confidently give honest reasons for why they believe what they believe regarding the biblical faith they profess.
I’ve written these articles from the perspective of a grandfather who has the blessed opportunity of interacting with some of his grandchildren quite often. By God’s grace, all my children are walking with the Lord, so I’ve joined forces with my kids in helping them with the spiritual development of their own kids. I’m confident that my children can do quite well in bringing their kids up in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians:6:4). Nevertheless, adding grandparents who love Jesus to the mix can and does speak volumes to grandchildren.
Considering the times in which my wife and I raised our five children in contrast to what’s taking place today, simply put: there is no comparison. In the nearly half-a-century since the birth of our firstborn, our country has become exponentially darkened, and overtly so. Tragically, Christendom has abandoned what flicker of light it had just a while ago, having willingly entered into the world in its ways and means.
How bad are things today? To borrow a phrase from 2 Timothy:3:1: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” Noah Webster defines “perilous” in his 1828 Bible-oriented dictionary as “Dangerous; hazardous; full of risk; as a perilous undertaking.” Our times are definitely that—and worse.
Satan is more than aware that children are terribly vulnerable, and that awareness is no secret among his minions, both spiritual entities and his human yet unwitting followers. As I’ve noted previously, youth have been instrumental in initiating the major revolutions throughout history. Hitler, Mao, and Stalin worked that angle with much success. One of the reasons, as the Scriptures inform us, is because though zeal among youth may begin well, without biblical knowledge it cannot end well.
Sadly, children today not only lack knowledge, but they are emotionally driven, making them ripe for being controlled by someone or something else. The fierce battle for the control of our children is the chief undertaking of the times in which we live. Although this is the losing situation in which we find ourselves, it should not take place among Bible-believing Christians.
What is the problem...or problems?
The Barna survey organization gives some insights and makes the following observations in its report addressing “The worldview dilemma of American parents.”
The report was based on “a survey of 600 American parents with children younger than 13 conducted in January . The respondents were asked several-dozen worldview-related questions that ‘measure both beliefs and behavior within eight categories of worldview application.’
“While 67 percent of parents with children younger than 13 identified as Christians, just 2 percent of those surveyed subscribed to a biblical worldview as defined by the researchers. According to the report, a biblical worldview ‘emerges from accepting the Bible as a relevant and authoritative guide for life.’
“Among the two-thirds of parents who identify as Christian, just 4 percent of them possessed a biblical worldview.
“‘A parent’s primary responsibility is to prepare a child for the life God intends for that child,’ Barna, the director of research...said in a statement. ‘A crucial element in nurturing is helping the child develop a biblical worldview—the filter that causes a person to make their choices in harmony with biblical teachings and principles.’ According to Barna...the ‘research confirms that very few parents even have the worldview development of their children on their radar.’
“‘The typical American parent is either fully unaware that there is a worldview development process, or they are aware that their child is developing a worldview, but they do not take responsibility for a role in the process,’ he said.” (“Parents lack of biblical worldview puts children at ‘spiritual disadvantage’ Barna warns,” Christian Post 3/14/22)
Does the Bible exhort us regarding our responsibility to teach our children the ways of the Lord? Yes—over and over again!
Deuteronomy:6:2: “That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.”
Deuteronomy:6:6-7: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
Ephesians:6:4: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Second Timothy 1:5: “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”
Second Timothy 3:15: “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
See also: Deuteronomy:6:20; 2 John:1:4; 1 Timothy:3:4,12; Ephesians:5:1,6,8; Ephesians:6:1,4; Colossians:3:6,20,21; Galatians:4:19; 1 Corinthians:14:20; Luke:18:16; Mark:10:14; Mark:9:27; Matthew:19:13-14; 18:3, 10:21.
As was pointed out in Part 1, our children need to know and understand what they believe from the Scriptures that constitutes a requirement for salvation. Although a parent or grandparent cannot know for certain if the child has taken to heart what he or she professes to believe, they can know whether or not the stated belief is true to the Word of God, and they should be able to ascertain whether what he or she professes can serve as an encouragement regarding the child’s salvation.
If a child or grandchild refuses to participate in the conversation process, that shouldn’t stop the adult from loving him and praying for him, as well as continuing in a godly way to build his relationship with him. Coercing a child is counterproductive at best in this recommended process.
What’s ahead for a child whose answers seem to indicate that he is saved? Challenging times may lie ahead for him. He may have difficulty sharing his faith if he cannot explain why he believes what he believes. The Bible gives all believers this exhortation: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter:3:15; italics added).
The Word of God is God’s truth, and it gives believers hundreds of reasons to believe it is just that—God’s truth. Our biblical faith is founded on reasons to believe it! It’s not a leap in the dark. It isn’t based on, nor is it driven by, emotions or feelings. That doesn’t mean that we should deny the fact that emotions or feelings are involved in our born-again experience. This is something that takes place when a believer begins his personal—intimate—relationship with Jesus.
Although an observer may be impressed by seeing these changes in the believer, the changes themselves are subjective, not supported by empirical or convincing evidence. There is no shortage of proofs in the Word of God.
Committing one’s life to Christ should involve solid reasons. Certainly, that’s indicated by Isaiah:1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” This means that what the gospel declares objectively must be proven through transformed lives.
Our believing children face another challenge that is overtaking most of them. When they leave home, they have to contend with fellow students and teachers who are antagonistic toward their biblical beliefs. Very few can “defend” (1 Peter:3:15) their beliefs. That’s a major part of today’s tragedy, as our young people are being overwhelmed by the antichrist teachings of the world, the devious devices of the devil, and their own lack of biblical knowledge. Shipwrecked faith is the terrible outcome.
Nevertheless, conversations with our children can help many to defend their faith. The approach is the same as helping the child understand (by asking him questions) what he needs to believe in order to be saved. But this time, the emphasis is on apologetics, i.e., proofs for what the child believes. Are there proofs? Absolutely!
As noted in Part 1, the parents and grandparents may have their work cut out for them when it comes to supplying their children and grandchildren with biblical answers regarding the “what” and “why” of their beliefs. If you don’t think you’re up to the task, you need to reread the verses on teaching your children/grandchildren that are listed above. It’s a responsibility, not an option.
Although it may seem that there is no end to the questions for the child to deal with—whether hostile or from friends truly interested in why they believe what they believe—I’ve suggested a few of my questions for them to answer, questions that they may get from others. Hopefully, the conversation will be an exercise in helping the child get accustomed to answering biblical questions, especially among their peers. In addition, the process of discussing some topics ought to build their confidence in “the faith to which they are to earnestly contend” (Jude 3).
Given the days of apostasy that seem to be increasing exponentially, encouraging our children to grow in biblical discernment is critical. How critical? As has been pointed out, children are a chief target of the Adversary. One example (among hundreds!) is given by a friend of mine, Carl Teichrib, in his book, Game of Gods, regarding the promotion of “Earth Day.” Throughout the US our school children are taught that we are destroying our “Mother,” Gaia, a.k.a. Mother Earth. They’re told they are the only ones who can save “Her.” How? Through worshiping the planet as divine. Through stopping overpopulation (read “abortion”). Through conserving our natural resources (the Green Movement). Through ending the country’s belief in the teachings of Christianity, which are declared to be the main reasons for the besetting environmental problems of the earth!
Few Christian children are prepared to answer such false promotions and accusations. Most are intimidated, and consequently overwhelmed, by the lies thrown at them. My approach, which is definitely not the only approach, is to help build some basic apologetics with my grandchild. Again, I begin with questions that they may be asked or confronted by, for which I suggest an answer (unless they already have a good answer, which I then reinforce). Here are some of the questions:
“How do you know there’s a God? Why do you believe that the Bible is God’s Word? How do you know that Jesus is God? How can you be sure that your belief is the only true spiritual belief? Why is Jesus the only way of salvation? If Jesus is God, and the Father is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, does that mean that you believe in three Gods?”
As you are probably aware, the questions and topics are seemingly endless. Therefore, the goal is to get the child used to responding to questions about his faith.
He or she won’t be able to answer every question (I can’t!), but the more they can, the more confident they will become regarding God’s Word. It’s a good thing to remind them that they are responding from the high ground—God’s Word—which is the Truth.
Here is a sample of conversations I have with my grandchildren, trying to keep it simple.
Question: How do you know there’s a God?
Response: Just by looking at your own body! It contains about 100 trillion cells, each cell having its own special function. It’s a mathematical impossibility for that to have come about by chance. So, a human’s body must have been created by a Designer of incredible intellect and power! Only God fits that description.
Question: What makes you think the Bible is God’s communication to mankind?
Response: First, that’s what the Bible claims, and it gives hundreds of examples. Second, if God is infinite (which the Bible also claims,) and we are finite (which we are, as created beings), no one can know God unless He reveals Himself to mankind. The Bible fills us in on the details from God about God.
Question: I’ve been told that the Bible is full of contradictions. What do you say to that?
Response: Do you believe everything you’ve been told? Have you read the Bible yourself? Give me an example of a biblical contradiction.
Question: Doesn’t evolution prove the Bible wrong? Aren’t the Bible’s teachings opposed to science?
Response: First, give me an example of just one thing that can be proven about evolution. Second, give me an example of a biblical teaching that is opposed to true science. Since God is the Creator of all things, and since true science came about by studying His design, then opposing true science would be a biblical contradiction. Most of the world’s greatest scientists were biblical Christians.
Again, these are only a handful of possible questions a child, especially the older ones leaving home for college, may use to challenge those who doubt. Biblical Christians, as I said, have the high ground of God’s truth, so I recommend that they respond by putting their hostile questioners on the defensive by responding with questions of their own—and perhaps, not always, planting seeds of God’s Word that may well pierce the heart of the most arrogant challenger. Remember—lies can never trump the truth.
My prayer for these two articles is that they might encourage readers to reach out in ministering the Word of God to their children and/or grandchildren. In loving them, we can do no better than to love them in the Lord in word and in deed. I pray that our witness to them will reveal our love for them and reflect our love for Jesus, who first loved us, a fact that He made evident by paying the eternal penalty for our sins.